We’ve been putting in a big effort to make Champlain a greener school in recent years; we’ve added composting bins, electronic recycling receptacles, even a LEED certified building, but there is one unsustainable habit that Champlain students, staff, and faculty can’t seem to beat: printing.
In the Miller Information Commons, we go through ten to fifteen cases (not reams—cases) of paper in a month. That’s about 252,000 sheets of paper every semester. Kevin Andrews, a Sr. Analyst for the IS department said that during finals week, students can go through fifteen reams of paper each day in the Mac labs alone.
Not only does all of this printing have an environmental impact—it’s also costing us. Color ink cartridges cost $1200 for 12,000 prints, which already sounds pretty pricey, but then consider that our high-use printers (like the one in Ireland 015) have as many as 30,000 prints per semester. And these prices don’t even include technician time used to maintain the printers. Since Champ Support moved to Rowell Annex over the summer, the Helpdesk has taken over the responsibilities for maintaining the ink and paper in the Ireland 015 lab and Perry Barn. On top of their regular responsibilities, “techs are now in one or both of the labs every two to three days adding ink and paper,” said Colby Morrill, supervisor for the Helpdesk.
So how can we solve this problem? The obvious answer is to print less. That means we’ll need involvement from students and professors to cut this habit out. We have the resources to print less: Angel and Mymail are two ways we can submit homework electronically—not to mention other creative solutions like posting homework to a class blog or discussion forum.
Our staff members in the Event Center, Financial Aid, and the Development Office are also starting to change their habits by replacing their individual inkjet printers with shared multifunctional copiers, which costs $0.001 per page to print instead of $0.1 per page. In Joyce and Skiff, the multifunctional copiers now default to double-sided printing.
Students can turn around the problem by asking their professors to allow electronic submissions. They can tell teachers that Champlain students alone are printing thousands of sheets of paper every day and this needs to stop. If students don’t see the progress with this issue, speaking with SGA is one way to have their student voice amplified because SGA can brings concerns straight to the college counsel.
For faculty, overcoming the printing habit might mean learning new technology or simply getting used to using Angel more frequently. If every faculty member on campus converted one 5-page assignment to an electronic submission, we could save over two cases of paper.
Professor Warren Baker made the switch from hard copy assignments to drop boxes on Angel. “It’s a completely positive change,” said Baker, “I barely use any paper. Everything gets submitted through Angel and then I can make extremely detailed comments using track changes. I just email it back and there’s no paper exchange at all. It’s brilliant.”